Friday, 22 August 2014


(Sydney Theatre Company)

Shakespeare's 'Macbeth' about the General who kills to fulfil a prophesy that he will become King of Scotland then with his wife's encouragement continues to kill to maintain his position.

This production from the Sydney Theatre Company inverts the usual staging by placing the audience on the stage to look out upon an empty auditorium. The play itself is staged on a comparatively small extension of the stage into the auditorium. The advantages of this are probably that most of the audience is close to the action, the disadvantage being the discomfort of the tight, banked seating.

The staging here is simple in the extreme. Two long tables placed end to end, eight irregular chairs, a crown and a King's cloak constituting the set. Fans have been placed in the circle to blow smoke across the stage and over the audience for effect and light and sound do most of the rest.

For the first half an hour with the lit empty auditorium as the visible background I wondered why the production wasn't simply placed into a smaller theatre if the intention was to bring the audience close to the action. But then the auditorium went dark and from that point it became a part of the staging with coloured light denoting time of day and characters from time moving about the empty space, even sitting high in the upper circle, to deliver some of their lines. To my surprise I found the overall effect quite interesting.

An ensemble of eight play the various roles with Hugo Weaving striking as the title character.

Monday, 18 August 2014

Bridge trumped by weather

Bridge didn't happen this evening. Well, actually it did, but with reduced numbers which did not include us.

We started off for bridge as usual with me driving up the road to collect Ce and then driving back around past my place heading for the club. But it was a very stormy night and New South Head Road was in traffic gridlock.

It took forty minutes to progress a couple of hundred metres and we assumed there was an accident or some similar incident ahead.

Finally we reached the Ocean Street crossroad (that is, after forty minutes - a journey that usually takes less than ten minutes) where police refused us further progress diverting us from our intended route right back to my front door.

I'd had enough. I drove Ce home and returned to my home and put my feet up for the evening watching television in the comfort of home. I learned later that fallen electrical wires just a block from my home was the incident that stopped traffic.

Sunday, 17 August 2014

The Hundred-Foot Journey

An Indian family with a background running restaurants in their home country decides to try their luck operating a restaurant in France immediately across the road from a hatted French restaurant. Culture, not to mention cuisines, clash in 'The Hundred-Foot Journey' a romantic drama set in an impossibly picturesque French village.

A high powered production coalition including Steven Spielberg and Oprah Winfrey no less is behind this film which I suspect is the reason for casting Helen Mirren as a Frenchwoman. Mirren does well as usual but I suspect box office power rather than logic is behind that casting decision.

It is romance by numbers and the twists and outcomes are rarely a surprise but the cast and the images are sufficiently appealing to make this an enjoyable if slightly overlong treat. The food looks simply superb and for that alone I have added half a star.

Saturday, 16 August 2014

It's all the same....

...peak or non peak hours, Sydney's traffic is often in grid lock.

This is Concord Road, heading north this morning (Saturday) at 10.25am.

Friday, 15 August 2014

Palo Alto

'Palo Alto' follows a group of teenaged high school students in California as they grapple with the relationships they have with their peers and with adults. Although a talented lot - musicians, artists and on the sporting field - they are a largely languid group who spend a lot of their time under the influence of alcohol and drugs and participating in loveless, often callous, sex.

There is not much plot to the film which is styled more like documentary glimpse into a week or so of their lives.

The film is based on a collection of short stories written by James Franco and I assume maybe partially biographical.

Franco also features in the film as a Physical Education Teacher and as with most of the other adults featured his character is frankly rather creepy.

The teenagers come across as very natural.

Its all slow and rather sad and a bit of a downer.

Thursday, 14 August 2014

There Will Never Be Another You

I go to the movies regularly at my favourite cinema the Randwick Ritz. Although a 'multiplex' with six screens, one of the screens being one of the few remaining art deco cinema auditoriums in Sydney, the complex is a family business and not one of the major chains.

So it is friendly and cheap and has many personal touches lacking in the major cinemas.

As used to be the case in all cinemas when I was a child, the Ritz displays slides advertising current and forthcoming attractions which are screened to a musical soundtrack that changes weekly and recalls the anniversary of some film of the past. It is a lovely practice.

This week's soundtrack is Nat King Cole singing 'There Will Never Be Another You'.

The slide which explains this choice mentions the song was featured in 'The World According to Garp' which starred Robin Williams as Garp. What a thoughtful selection.

Williams was not one of those lookalike celebrities indistinguishable from one another. He truly was one of a kind. Intelligent, witty, interesting but sadly suffering demons.

Robin Williams 1951 - 2014